History of Henry J

In 1943, the American manufacturer Henry J. Kaiser had expressed his intention to produce cars after the Second World War was over, he shared this idea with Joseph W. Frazer, President of Graham-Page board. In 1945 both of them joined their efforts to found Kaiser Frazer Corp. in the United States.

The first models of the company began to be on sale in 1946, and they were called like their founders. The line is increased in 1950, with the launching of Henry J., a sports car with a smaller bodywork. The volumes of production were important, getting 120,000 of Kaiser and Frazer models and 30,000 of Henry J. ones.

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However, the company was too small to be able to compete with the three big ones of Detroit and soon afterwards, because of the difficulties the production of the Frazer was stopped.

In spite of this, in 1953, Kaiser got the Willys Overland Motors Inc. which manufactured the utilitarian vehicle ¨Jeep¨ and the Aero Willys, Ace and Lark cars. So, the company was called Kaiser Motors Corp. The same year and due to the increasing financial difficulties, the production of the Henry J. is discontinued

Landing in Argentina

Henry J. Kaiser´s idea was to be able to go on with his company in some other country, with less industrial development, where he could get better results. In 1954 he is determined to stay in Argentina, after studying and visiting different countries. In that moment, the total number of cars got to 564,000 units being insufficient. The amount was of 33 inhabitants for each car, worse than that registered 25 years before. The importation was restricted to 6,000 annual units and the local incipient industry hardly produced 3,000 units, being completely shortage to supply the demand. No doubt, this fact carried weight Henry Kaiser when he made his decision.

The proposal done to the Argentinian Government included the creation of a mixed society making up by the State ruled company IAME, Kaiser Motors Corp. and the contribution of private Argentinian groups, who would take part through the purchase of shares by a total of 160 million pesos. The State would also give the new society some credits of 200 million pesos and permissions of car importation of 40 million pesos.

The plan was approved by national authorities and on January 18th, 1955 the respective agreement was subscribed to. Some days later, Industrias Kaiser Argentina S.A. was setting up, with a capital of 20 million dollars, where the 32% was represented by machinery and tools imported from the United States. Two months later, the facility, where 9,000 tones of equipment were brought from the United States, starts to be built in an area of 200 hectares situated in Santa Isabel location, in Cordoba. At the same time, in the U.S., the main company was reorganized, stopped producing cars and turning into Kaiser Industries Corp.

Its subsidiary, Willys Motors Inc. started to be devoted exclusively to the production of the Jeep. In 1954, the first Kaiser Manhattan is imported. This model set up the base of the first Argentinian car: the Kaiser Carabela.

Starting production

On 27th April 1956, the first jeep comes out the assembly line in Santa Isabel. With its pick up unit, 2,000 vehicles were produced this year. The production came up to 7,000 units in 1957, when the Estanciera is launched to the market, the national version of Willys Station Wagon of the American production.

Next year, the luxurious Kaiser Carabela makes its appearance. The IKA production gets to 20,000 annual units. In 1959 an agreement with the Regie Nationale des Usines Renault is carried out in order to make Renault cars under its licence.

Finally, in 1960 the Kaiser Bergantin is introduced and the line of units with the Kaiser Trade Mark is completed.

Ramblers are coming

In 1961, an agreement with American Motors, allows IKA to produce the Rambler line which is produced since January 1962. In this way, IKA, directed from its beginning by the American James Mc Cloud, started to make the most complete range of cars and utilitarian vehicles in Argentina, comfortably leading the local market with a share of 30%. The national components integration of the vehicles is about 90 %.

In 1966 the Torino is presented and pretty soon becomes the most successful car of the company and one of the hits of the Argentinian automotive industry.

The next year, the Regie Nationale des Usines Renault becomes the main important partner of the society and it takes over the administrative directorship. It changed its name by IKA-Renault S.A. The Renault units get more than the 55% of the total production. Finally in 1975, Renault buys the rest of the shares and the company finally becomes Renault Argentina S.A.